What, indeed, did Aristotle have to do with the History of Metaphysics? It has to do with one of the most influential; accidents in history. The explanation is complicated. Aristotle was extremely prolific; he wrote over two Hundred Books, on a wide variety of subjects. Only Thirty-One of them still survive to the present day. Like many Ancient writers, most of his Works were destroyed when the Roman Emperor Theodosius, a Christian, ordered the burning of the Library of Alexandria in 391 C.E.
Even these extant writings cover many subjects, from logic, metaphysics, philosophy, ethics, politics, aesthetics, rhetoric, and empirical biology. His biological studies are the basis of Modern Taxonomy. Even though he made a few “errors” from the point of view of Modern Science, such as classifying whales and dolphins with fish; his work, however, stands as monumental.
Aristotle also refuted Atomic Theory, which had only recently been developed by Leucippus and Democritus. He was so highly respected, that for Centuries, many continued to believe that all things contain various quantities of Air, Fire, Water. Earth, and Quintessence. He also described Two underlying Forces he called “Harmony” and “Conflict”, so his Teachings are not very much in variance with those of Nova Thought. Symbolically, of course, there is no Reason to discount Aristotelian Elemental Theory completely, at least from a symbolic or Metaphysical point of view.
First of all, as many Modern Commentators have pointed out that the Five Aristotelian Elements relate to states of Matter, Namely, Gas, Plasma, Liquid, Solid and Energy.
Additionally, the Elements are useful from an Occult or Metaphysical context, a Method of dividing, if you will, the Infinite into a Finite Group of sections, in order to better comprehend the Unknowable.
Aristotle himself never used the expression “Metaphysics”. How is this possible? Actually, the Word was the result of a bizarre literary accident. Over Four Hundred years after Aristotle’s Passing, Andronicus of Rhodes, then the head of the School started by Aristotle, compiled his Writings into a comprehensible whole for the First Time. A book about “Physics” (Physical Science) ended with a section on Philosophy. Andronicus simply titled this section “Meta ta Physica” (“the section after physics”). “Meta” Means “after” or “Greater”, hence, about a Thousand Years later, when the Writings of Aristotle were “rediscovered” in Medieval Christian Europe, the Term was taken to Mean “the Science of that which lies Beyond the Physical”. Aristotle thus became popular in the Middle Ages, both in europe, and the Islamic World.
What, exactly, Aristotle’s Metaphysics teach, and how does this relate to the New age Movement? More will follow.